Lake Ossiachersee, Carinthia:
Water Sport Paradise in Austria′s South
Lake Ossiachersee is one of the southern-most lakes of Austria. It can be found north-east of Villach and south-west of Feldkirchen. The town of Ossiach is the most famous place by the lake. The Ossiachersee is the third-largest lake in Carinthia, a province full of rather large lakes. By Carinthian standards, being number three still produces a pretty decent lake: Up to 52 metres deep, 10.5 square kilometres large, at its widest extension approximately 10.2 kilometres long. The narrowest distance between its facing shorelines can be found between Ostriach and Ossiach and is still some 600 metres.
The Ossiachersee is known for its scenic settings: North of it, tourists will find the Gerlitzen mountain with the highly popular cable car to the summit. South of the Ossiachersee, the western outskirts of the Ossiacher Tauern add decent scenery. The Ossiachersee is what limnologists call "holomictic": During periods of water circulation in spring and autumn, the lake′s water is completely stirred up and mixed with the most superficial layers. Several sections of the shoreline of the Ossiachersee are nature reserves.
The eastern bay of the Ossiachersee is occupied by the so-called Bleistadt, once a swamp, with the river Tiebel running through it. It is the main river that carries water into the Ossiachersee. The most significant town at the lake is Ossiach - the place that gave its name to the lake. On contrast to the much bigger Villach, Ossiach can be found directly by the lake. It is well-known for its monastery. The other municipalities that have shares in the shores of the Ossiachersee are Annenheim, Sattendorf and Steindorf. The most important landmark at Lake Ossiachersee is the ruined castle of Landskron. It belongs to Villach, and I covered Landskron in the respective article.
Things to do at the Ossiachersee as a Tourist
Tourism is the most important stimulus to the local economy. Several hotels, B&Bs and camping lots can be found directly by the lake. The Ossiacherseeradweg or "Lake Ossiach Cycling Path" is popular among cyclists at all degrees of experience. In terms of other transportation, the region benefits from its vicinity to the international airport in Klagenfurt, as well as by its excellent links to the highway. There is also a regional railway link between Villach and Feldkirchen, which offers good connections to the area of the Ossiachersee.
In Annenheim, you will find the oldest cable car of Carinthia, the Kanzelbahn that I have mentioned above, which will take you to the Gerlitzen. The Kanzelhöhe is a sub-summit of the Gerlitzen, supposedly the spot in Carinthia with by far the most hours of sunshine every year. So if you go there and its pouring down, you are very lucky.
A more obscure attraction can be linked to Carinthia′s past (and maybe present) as a Nazi stronghold and backbone: At the bottom of the Ossiachersee, there are all sorts of ammunition, weapons and explosives from WWII. Their retrieval would be very expensive. However, it is strictly prohibited for private divers to pick up any of the material as a souvenir. Other attractions beyond the distance to Klagenfurt would be St. Veit an der Glan, Gurk with its monastery and the mighty fortress of Hochosterwitz.